USDA announced Friday it will begin easing its ban on imports of European meat and livestock. The ban was imposed two months ago to prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease, which is generally harmless to humans but devastating to livestock herds. Since 1929, the U.S. has been free of the highly contagious disease, which is easily transmitted by the wind, by people, or through contaminated water.
The spread of animal and human disease is an issue on many fronts. In the U.S., those concerns often focus on food and water quality, as consumers seek assurance that what they eat and drink is safe.
Despite perceptions that it may be healthier, a recent study found there is little difference between water from a bottle and municipal water from the tap.
The research, commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, revealed bottled water may be no safer, or healthier, than tap water in many countries while selling for up to 1,000 times the price. According to the Fund, regulatory standards for U.S. municipal tap water are tougher than those applied to bottled water.
Randy Beavers, the Assistant General Manager of Des Moines, Iowa Water Works agrees.
Randy Beavers: "The problem with bottled water is that they're not regulated by the same EPA that we do. They're regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and so they don't have the same testing requirements that our municipal water has. So that's true. We know that there's some bottled water companies here in Des Moines that take our product, filter it through carbon filters and sell it in the stores."
The International Bottled Water Association claims its standards are "at least as protective," as those for tap water and the trade group says the World Wildlife Fund's criticism is "misguided."
Nevertheless, with annual sales of more than 20 billion dollars, bottled water is the fastest growing beverage industry in the world.